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Social Security Administration updates transgender policy

WASHINGTON — The Social Security Administration (SSA) today issued new regulations updating the standard for changing an individual’s gender marker in Social Security records.

The updated policy recognizes that transition-related care involves decisions made between a transgender person and their doctor therefore is different for each person.

The SSA policy now permits a transgender person to change their gender marker upon submission of one of the following types of documents:

* A letter from the person’s doctor confirming that the person has undergone “appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition”

* A full-validity, 10-year U.S. passport that includes the person’s correct gender

* A state-issued birth certificate that shows the correct gender; or

* A court order recognizing the person’s gender

The new SSA standard brings the agency squarely in line with the current medical consensus that surgery is not appropriate or necessary for every transgender person to transition.

“This is a tremendous victory for our community,” said Ilona Turner, legal director of San Francisco-based Transgender Law Center. “The Social Security Administration was one of the last agencies to hold onto an outdated, one-size-fits-all standard for gender change. Transgender people will now be able to change all their federal documents with a simple letter from their doctor recognizing that they have undergone the appropriate treatment for them.”

The new policy was adopted after several years of advocacy by a coalition of transgender-rights organizations, including Transgender Law Center, that was led by the National Center for Transgender Equality.

The updated SSA standard mirrors that of the U.S. passport agency and that of a growing number of states, including California. The new SSA policy is available online HERE.